A serial killer is an individual who has killed three or more people over a period of time and whose motivation for murder is mainly based on emotional satisfaction. Serial killers have a callous exploitative personality with no emotions and have no ability to feel guilt of anything they do. Some scientists have argued that psychopathy is genetically determined, and the individuals have little power to control its effects. Others have disregarded this outlook of the issue due to lack of significant abnormality in serial killer’s brains.

Studies of majority of serial killers have revealed that there is reduced connectivity between the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex leading to fewer emotions after processing of negative stimuli (Fox & Levin 2014). People with this deficit do not feel embarrassed or nervous after being caught up engaging in inhuman acts. The serial killers only suffer from physical pain and not emotional pain. Psychopaths experience difficulties when following rules of morality irrespective of great knowledge and understanding of the rule.

Unlike psychotics, psychopaths do not suffer from any form of mental disorder and suffer from personality disorder. Unfortunately, personality disorder is more difficult to cure when compared to mental disorders affecting the psychotics. Some of the world’s major serial killers normally work on calculated and manipulative strategies that indicate an absence of any mental disorder. They do not suffer from hallucinations and delusions (Goodwill & Alison 2005)

Gunness Belle

Gunness Belle was little known in USA before emigrating there from Norway between 1881 and 1886. It is alleged that she had got pregnant at the age of 17, and the boyfriend had beaten and hence caused a miscarriage.

Get quality help now
Bella Hamilton

Proficient in: Charles Manson

5 (234)

“ Very organized ,I enjoyed and Loved every bit of our professional interaction ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

It is rumored that the man who had kicked her died later with symptoms of poisoning and this is the probable the reason she moved to
America or alternatively, she had moved to unite with her sister who had moved to USA earlier (Wilson, 2014).

Belle’s first victim was the husband she married in 1893 from Chicago. Initially, the couple seemed happy and had a confectionary store. They had four children and one foster child living with them. The confectionary store business did not flourish well as Belle expected, but the building harboring the store caught fire, and they were compensated by the insurance cover.

It is alleged that Belle had secretly started the fire (Gibson, 2009). Two of their children died from acute colitis; however, acute colitis symptoms resemble poisoning that makes many suspects that Belle could still have poisoned them. The two kids had an insurance cover that made Belle richer. Her husband died later; the doctors gave a report that his heart gave out. Belle was further compensated for around 8000 dollars by the insurance company; a colossal amount of money then. She bought a farm in La Porte and shortly
after purchasing the farm, a section of it burned down; she was compensated further by the insurance companies.

She later met her second lover who was a widower with two kids (Gibson, 2009). They moved together with each partner contributing two children to the family. They younger daughter of Mr. Gunness died shortly after marriage from unknown causes. In 1902, she killed Mr. Gunness using a meat chopper, the foster daughter witnessed the scenario but the coroner was convinced that she was innocent on the issue since she was pregnant (Glyn, 2011). She later cashed over 3000 dollars from her husband’s insurance policy. Luckily, Mr.Gunness elder daughter was taken by her uncle who most likely saved her from death (Gibson, 2009).

Long-term impact of losing a baby from criminality while pregnant can be linked to emotion problems like depression and anxiety. Such memories of loss might have always made her shocked and angry. She may remember a series of events leading to the death of the kid and hence blame herself that has long-term effect and magnification over time instead of reduction (Glyn, 2011).

Belle was not born in USA and migrated there; people migrate in search for a better life although migrating can have a negative impact to some personalities causing stress that affects one’s mental health and well-being. The combination of the migration process together with her traumatic loss might have contributed to change of personality and hence converting her into a serial killer. From her previous experience, finding a new place with vast and different cultures must have been daunting and scary for her. The only way she could have coped is by getting herself occupied and busy.

Her children had insurance policies, and some believe that Belle killed the children to benefit from the policies. Belle killed two of her children namely Axel and Caroline. The above allegations might have been true; Belle was financially struggling after emigrating to U.S.A. Her desperation for money might have degraded her attachments to the importance of life. Belle was very violent in her killings. She cut the body of the victims and threw them to pigs and usually killed her lovers using Sausage graders.
Though Belle greatest motivation might have been money, she still possessed a deep-seated anger of those that she had killed or harmed in the past. Violence might have been one of her ways of releasing this self-blame and anger while increasing her wealth and developing independence.

Another fascinating incidence is where Belle tried to poison some of her victims, some psychologists believe that there was hierarchy in her killings but basing the argument on her victims, there is no logical reasoning behind the method she chose to kill her victims. Poisoning is equivalent to cutting someone into pieces and ensures one suffers and writhes in pain before dying. Almost all her victims had to suffer before dying. It is symbolic in that it might have been a way of mimicking her experience with miscarriage. It is apparent that Belle lacked conscience or empathy; she normally used blatant deception to attract her victims. Belle was a very cold woman; she could carry out abortions and also claim that unknown children are hers only to kill them. She lured men with her wealth and then killed them together with their children.

Belle disappeared; there is a probability that she escaped unnoticed since she was a very determined woman who was very selfish, and probably she faked her death (Hickey, 2012).

Charles Manson

Charles Manson was born in November 12, 1934 by a teenage mother who had run away from home at the age of 15. His mother was a total drunkard and could not care for him; he spent his youth with his relatives, reform schools and boys homes. He started involving in car stealing and general burglary. He was arrested severally and after release in 1954 on parole for the good behavior, Manson married Rosalie Willis and gave birth to a son Charles Manson Jr. Charles Manson had continued to make extra cash from stealing cars, and his wife divorced him after discovering it (Fox & Levin 2003).

He was arrested again in 1960 and spent six years in prison. In the prison, he met Alvin Karpis, who was a member of Ma Barker’s gang. Alvin taught Manson to play steel guitar and became obsessed by music; he wrote several songs and started singing. He was strongly convinced that once outside the prison he would become a famous musician. He was released in 1967. Equipped with guitar and expertise in stealing and drugs, Manson started to gather followers.

The Beach Boys recorded one of the Manson songs titled “Never Learn Not to Love” because he was their close ally. He managed to make a cult of “the Family”. He predicted a war between the blacks and the whites in 1968 after listening the song from the Beatles namely “Helter Skelter” (Manson, 2006). After the supposed war had failed to happen, Manson resulted into violence and had to show the blacks how to do it. He directed his followers to kill specific people, at one incidence they attacked the house of Terry Melcher, who had failed to support Manson’s music career and killed all the occupants. Investigators landed on him, and he was arrested together several of his followers. He was sentenced to death, but the death penalty was outlawed that saw Manson spend the rest of his life in Jail (Hendrickson et al., 2007).

On many cases alcohol has been termed as a family problem, it does not only affect those taking it, but also the family members and the people surrounding the family (Atchison & Heide 2011). Studies have shown that children who grow up in alcoholic families experience emotional problems that if not well monitored can result to destructive behavior. Alcohol makes the children feel insecure, anxious and vulnerable. Children of alcoholics find it very hard to cope in life. Such memories from a child can make them internalize their sadness hence becoming withdrawn. They might also try to deny these facts and try to pretend that nothing happened. Some like Charles Manson opted to resolve their internal sadness through violent behavior. Charles was also small in stature and probably suffered from ‘short man syndrome.’

There is a history of short men being associated with violence; one good example is Hitler Adolf. This does not mean that all short men are aggressive. Inferiority complex can play a role in violent behavior basing the argument on the fact that there were other underlying factors in our case. Small men experience pressure to display their masculinity in the current world that is dominated by one personal appearance. Combined with biological influences, this can be a very dangerous concoction in the society.

At the age of 12, Charles had raped another boy, not necessarily that he was gay but might have been a mechanism to gain dominance by demeaning the boy. Charles had other frustrations; he had tried unsuccessfully to join the music industry by pursuing his music career (Purdy, 2014). Such frustrations combined with his chaotic childhood might have contributed to the personality of Charles Manson we know today. Naming two of his children after himself indicated his narcissistic and self-centered personality. He viewed his children as an extension of self.

Charles Manson usually saw something in the song lyrics of the Beatles titled Helter Skelter. The song was produced and released when Charles was predicting a racial war. If someone is strongly convinced, then most probably will try their best to ensure what they believe comes true. This is very easily associated with music where the message in song lyrics is subject to interpretation by the listener with disregard to musicians’ initial message. Charles had predicted race war and the song Helter Skelter intensified his believe (Psychologytoday, 2014).

Narcissistic characters are normally very composed and have a tendency of attracting the attention; Charles did not commit his murders directly and only convinced his followers to commit them. It is through his charisma that made him a very effective leader to his followers. They viewed him like a ‘God’ whom the followers believed that they must obey and believed that he requested all what was essential to be done. Charles had much confidence in himself and rated himself highly; he could not participate in doing something that he could get others doing and hence has no record of killing his victims directly. People have been emailing him in prison that indicates his power to captivate and command respect (Psychologytoday 2014).

Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy was born on November 24. He performed well at school and was normally uneasy in the environment since his peers were extremely rich and had to change and join Sophomore University to cover his financial insufficiency (Rule, King, & BBC Audiobooks America, 2009) It was in 9167 when he met a lady who shared skill and passion with him and usually sent much of their time together. His lover was rich and sophisticated, and Bundy had exaggerated his accomplishments to impress her. The lady found the real character and background of Bundy and decided that he lacked a brighter future hence left him. He experienced a great depression that made him drop out of school. During this period he discovered that the woman she referred to as the sister was his mother, and his grandfather was actually his father (Crocker, 2000).

His energy was rejuvenated after learning these facts that made him drop his shyness and went back to college where he graduated with a Bachelors degree in psychology. Bundy worked tirelessly to ensure that Governor Dan Evans was reelected and after he was reelected considered Bundy for a post in Seattle Crime Prevention Advisory. This was his best period because now he was a successful politician and had both his old girlfriend and his new catch (Bundy et al., 2005)

He began serial killing in 1974 with two ladies who were sailing. He later joined Utah University Law School he tried to attack a lady by the name Carol DaRonch unsuccessfully, and few hours later 17 years old girl was reported missing. A grave of bones was discovered in the Washington forest and later identified as belonging to the two lost ladies in Washington and the 17 years old girl (Dekle, 2011). Through investigations, a profile of a man known as ‘Ted’ was created that comprised of descriptions of the car, his blood group and approaches he used to lure his victims.

From the investigations, they were able to determine that the serial killer had the capability to move from state to state. He did several killings in Colorado, and all the victims had similar contusions on their head and through the same manner of death (Crocker, 2000).

Ted Bundy was arrested in 1975 on suspicion of burglary and later charged with kidnapping after the items picked from his car resembled those collected from various crime scenes. He was charged and jailed for 15 years after being found guilty of murdering DaRonch. Other charges followed later. He was his own lawyer and had the freedom to walk without leg irons. He tried to escape from the courtroom by jumping out of the window and was captured a week later. He escaped from prison again and rented an apartment near Florida University. He killed more women and was seen by an eyewitness, Nita Neary, who keenly observed him. He also left a mask at one of the crime scenes that was similar to the one found in his car during his first arrest. He was arrested again in February 1978. He was found guilty of all the murder charges and sentenced to death on an electric chair (Dekle, 2011).

People who thought they knew Ted Bundy well had advocated his candidacy as the governor of Washington State. They knew very little about him since he could camouflage socially. Bundy Ted is one of the most notorious killers and before his execution in 1989 confessed to having killed 30 young women. He was educated and very charming and hence only few women could resist him. He also persuaded the law intellectually to save himself from Florida’s electric chair although finally he failed. Bundy had taken psychology classes and hence got information from him was very difficult. The psychologists grilling him normally found him very clean irrespective of the external evidence linking him to violent behavior (Barden, Maddux, Petty, & Brewer, 2004).

Bundy blamed his addiction to pornography for his violent behavior. Bundy crossed the line of erotic fantasy becoming a serial killer. Ted Bundy was a sexual psychopath and had sexual sadistic behaviors. He was very insecure and intelligent, insecure because majority of his classmates were wealthy. He was a very shy guy who had a strong dependency on women and hence had fear of being humiliated by women. He rarely dated and mostly stayed lonely.

Ted Bundy started his violent life with burglarizing homes and shoplifting; he usually assaulted women sexually before eventually killing them. Majority of his victims were single white women. He killed across different states that showed that he used a vehicle to access his victims (Aamodt & Moyse 2003). It is suspected that his serial killings were triggered by his college charming girlfriend who left him desperately. Bundy also had thought that his mother was his sister, and it was rumored that his father was also his grandfather. Bundy was a Serial killer who did a lot of planning to kill his victims. He knew how to conceal evidence having attended law units and had a wide knowledge of police procedures; six of his victims have not been found yet (Krueger, 2009).

Categories of serial killers

It is not possible to completely understand and categorize serial killers but it is possible to evaluate their practices and methods in order to define what type of criminal they are. However, depending on the nature of their crime, Federal Bureau of Investigations has categorized serial killers in three different categories according to how they carry out their killings. Comprehending the category at which a serial killer can be categorized make it at ease for Federal Bureau of Investigations to investigate their crimes and bring them to justice. The categories of these serial killers help greatly on describing the type at which that serial killer falls into. These categories include
organized, unorganized and mixed serial killers (Ramsland, 2006).

Organized serial killers

An organized serial killer is the most serial killer to capture and identify because he or she is very intelligent with an IQ ranging to almost 120. Nevertheless, their intelligence assists them so much to plan crimes well and in advance with much precautions so that no evidence can be got from the crime. In most cases, organized serial killers are married or they live with their girlfriends. They plan the crime before the chance occurs for weeks, months or even years before performing it.

Organized serial killer often socialize with the victim and apply methods such as tricking and charming in order for the victim to be unable to overcome that situation (Mariotte, 2010). It is collective for this category of criminals to watch victims for numerous days before finding someone they can consider as a good aim. Organized serial killers are always aware of the growing compulsion to act their deadly desire. When the victim is chosen, this category of serial killer will pick them up, frequently through some kind of designed strategy in order to advance their compassion.

Later, they take the victim to another place where they commit the killing. In simple terms, organized serial killers typically apply checks on the victim, whereby they bring a weapon and makes sure that the weapon is taken when they leave (Vronsky, 2004). After the victim is killed, this type of serial killer takes thorough precautions to ensure that the body cannot be identified or located. They even follow the reports of their crimes in the media and then travels to a different town or modify their job when they detect they can be noticed. In addition, organized serial killers keep improving their strategies by learning police investigative approaches and the longer they commit murders, the more impossible for the police to arrest them.

One of the main motivating factors for this category of serial killers is that they even murder the officers who attempt to investigate their crime. Examples of organized serial killers include the likes of Ted Buddy who committed seventeen crime scenes without being noticed. Before he was identified by the police, he was undertaking a law course in a school of law therefore he had much of intelligence about law. It is understood that out of the seventeen crimes he committed, six of his victims have not been located up to now and that is why he considered himself as the only professor in serial killing (Thomas, 2010). Ted Buddy had a girlfriend and owned a car which he applied to commit his crimes. He could regularly park it in the college parking and pretend to have an injury on his leg, it is at this point where he could trick the aide especially girls and then commit the crime.

Disorganized serial killers

Contrary, disorganized serial killers do not plan about their crimes in any way. Their IQ ranges between 80 and 95 and it is considered as below the average. This category of serial killer can be described as insensible to the crime because in most cases, disorganized serial killer kills people at the wrong places and in the wrong time. Although, they do not plan their crimes, it is difficult to catch them than even the organized serial killers because they cannot be predicted. They have intense and vague deadly cases but what is odd about these cases is that they are not planned so they do not have a thought out plan of the crime.

However, in contrary to organized serial killers, disorganized offenders do not cover up any sensible signs of their crime and have a habit of travelling from one state or town to another recurrently to avoid being apprehended (Ramsland, 2006). The dismay which occur at the crime scene may include evidence such as ejaculate, murder weapon and blood. They hardly have adjacent family or friends and therefore they stay in one place for just short time and then move to another place.

In most of the crimes committed by disorganized serial killers, there is slight application of reskills since the victim is usually starved to unconsciousness when he or she encounter this disorganized serial killer. Moreover, the body of the victim is usually exposed to the public because it is often left where the crime take place, and it is endangered to unusual injuries. This category of killers is susceptible to have no remembrance of what they deed and most of them admit that they were inspired by opinions from other sources or by their own opinions. Contradictory, disorganized serial killers are not educated, trained and do not have any skills of what they are doing (Vronsky, 2004).
Nevertheless, Crime Archives (2007) indicates Miguel Rivera as one of the disorganized serial killers.

It is believed that between April 1972 and September 1973, Miguel Rivera haphazardly attacked young boys on the Upper West Side of New York and in apartment buildings in East Harlem. Miguel Rivera stabbed and sodomized eight years old boy for a maximum of thirty nine minutes and even attempted to cut his penis. In addition, the bodies of three other boys were found in different places; one in the hall, the next one in the basements, and the other one in the rooftops of various apartments, with their private parts cut off and wounded to death. When he was arrested, Rivera appealed that God had informed him to alter those boys into girls.

Mixed serial killers

The third category of serial killers is referred as mixed serial killers. These are the killers who cannot be easily differentiated as either organized or disorganized. Their crimes involve two or more criminals, whereby there may be unexpected happenings that the criminal had not scheduled for, therefore, the criminal may change the plans or victim may battle during the progression of a crime or over a succession. However, in this category of serial killers, the sort of crime comprise some evidence of planning because there is poor cover-up of the victim’s body.

According to Vronsky (2004), the location of this kind of crime might be in a great panic meaning that there will be a great pact of physical violence experienced by the victim. Moreover, the criminal may be involved in alcohol and drugs or may be young. The good example of a mixed serial killer is Richard Ramirez who killed nineteen people between June 1984 and September 1985. It is believed that he murdered his victims in their homes casually and he overcame them with a wild offensive attack by applying dangerous force. When he was arrested, he said that he made a decision to murder the victims naturally at the scene. Unfortunately, the rooms which the crime occurred had cameras which captured forensic evidence because he had not masked his face. In contrary, Richard transported arms to the scene and also carried a police frequency scanner which consisted sequences of an organized serial killer (Thomas, 2010).

Types of serial killers

Research has shown that serial killers can only be classified in reference to their motives and organizational or social patterns. However, most of the serial killers do not fall into a single type, and many of them can be described in more than one type. But none of these types explain what might essentially result someone to be a serial killer. It is from the above categories that we get various types or sub-units of serial killers.

Thrill seekers

Thrill seekers are serial killers who enjoy overcoming the law, being pursued by the police and receiving attention from the media. One of the factor that distinguish thrill seekers from other serial killers is that they do not enhance privacy in their crimes. They keep sending message to each other and also expose their records of murders. In this case, it is reasonable to categorize thrill seekers as organized serial killers although they do not have advance plan in every crime they commit (Ramsland, 2006). Therefore, they can also be classified as unorganized serial killers. They often apply arms or raping the victims before they stab them to death. Once they kill the victim, they hide the victim’s body and proceed to the next victims where they employ the same tactics unless being caught. Thrill seekers serial killers can also be referred as hedonistic.

Medical killers

Medical serial killer is involved in medical killing and is very uncommon. Various people have been involved in the medical industry as a technique to carry out their
wicked and immoral deeds. Medical killer feels they have the perfect protection since it is very common for people in a clinics to die. This type of serial killers can be categorized as organized because they are highly intelligent and have the idea on how to smartly and carefully cover their killings (Mariotte, 2010). This is because it appears that a victim has passed away naturally, meaning there will be no cause for anyone to sense vulgar play and investigate the crime. Research has indicated that only few medics in history have achieved to murder people before they are suspected.

Mission oriented

These are killers who claim to undertake murders as in favor of their society. Mission oriented serial killers carry out their crimes by eliminating certain people from the society because they feel that the society can move on without them. The kind of people eliminated include homosexuals or lesbians, drug dealers, young women and prostitutes (Thomas, 2010). These killers can be categorized as organized serial killers since their crimes are well planned and often have a controlled crime scene. Their aim is to modify the society by eradicating a specific group of people and this makes it very easy for investigators to track them. The motive that leads this serial killer to commit murder is intense hatred of a certain group of people. The hatred may be based on gender, race, religion or lifestyle.

Control and power killers

These are serial killers who enjoy their victim’s panic, shattering and suffering. Control and power killers can be categorized as organized serial killers and are motivated by various motives such as history of childhood mistreatment, which left them feeling poor and powerless as grown-ups. Most of these killers are similar to thrill seekers because they sexually abuse their victims but they are not inspired by moods of covetousness. They just apply rape to simply control the victim and this make them to be categorized as
unorganized serial killers (Ramsland, 2006).

Visionary serial killers

This type of serial killers rarely experiences isolation from the society and sometimes have a belief that they can be considered in higher entities such as that of “God”. Visionary serial killers can further be divided into God-mandated and devil-mandated killers. These killers can be categorized as mixed serial killers and an example of such killers is David Berkowitz. This killer claimed to have received an order from demon through his neighbor’s dog to commit murder in his society. Subsequently, visionary serial killers tend to be more disorganized than other murderers thus easy to be tracked down. They are mostly motivated by their own mental illness or psychosis (Mariotte, 2010).


However, besides the above types of serial killers, there are also many other sub categories which make a serial killer unique based on the nature of crimes and their killing formalities. Most of the serial killers are motivated by different motives to commit their crimes and this can also influence the category at which a serial killer can be categorized.

Some of the serial killers are named according to the creatures in the environment such as one of the female serial killer who was named with reference to the female black widow spider which always kills and digests its mates when it lay her eggs (Thomas, 2010). A spree killer is another type of serial killers who murders another person after already murdering someone else. Those serial killers who murders their victims because of sexual arousal can be referred as lust killers. Moreover, cults are considered as serial killers who create clubs that sacrifice people after acceptance of joining their clubs, they can also be referred as group killers.

Generally, reality is never as good as dreams and this is why many serial killers choose to murder. Many serials killers are made and not born since they have the capability to balance with their environment. Serial killers seem absolutely normal, however, but beyond all considerations, satisfaction of their desires is the main motive which leads them to commit murder. This means that killings seem to fulfil their desires with the ultimate control over death and life.


  • Aamodt, M. G., & Moyse, C. (2003). Researching the multiple murderer: A comprehensive bibliography of books on specific serial, mass, and spree killers. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology. doi:10.1007/BF02802609
  • Atchison, A. J., & Heide, K. M. (2011). Charles Manson and the Family: The Application of Sociological Theories to Multiple Murder. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. doi:10.1177/0306624X10371794
  • Barden, J., Maddux, W. W., Petty, R. E., & Brewer, M. B. (2004). Contextual Moderation of Racial Bias: The Impact of Social Roles on Controlled and Automatically Activated
    Attitudes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.87.1.5
  • Bundy, T., De, F. R., Bianchi, K., Clark, D., Finadin Ltd., & Dark Sky Films (Firm), Zia Film Distribution LLC. (2005). The serial killers: Disc 2. Orland Park, Ill.: Dark Sky Films.

Cite this page

Serial Killer Motivation. (2018, Jun 22). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/paper-on-serial-killers/

Serial Killer Motivation
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7